A very welcome guest post from Ross McCafferty who, much to his annoyance, you will probably know better as @HolyroodPatter. Ross is a former blogger and parliamentary worker who recently mothballed his much loved blog and instead has opted for just incessant tweeting on Scottish and sometimes UK Politics. A current political history student, he can normally be found analysing, arguing and annoying on twitter, because anything beats studying.

Following Jeff’s recent post, I was delighted to be offered the chance to have my tuppence worth on whether money can really be made betting on politics. The short answer, of course, is yes.

Those who took a punt on the SNP winning most seats at 3, 5, even 7 to 1 are no doubt leafing through their winnings happily by now. But it is in a UK context that the bookmakers continue to seem to defy conventional wisdom so you can, with a fair amount of guesswork and a half decent political analysis, make money on politics.

Take the next Permanent Tory Leader. I should say from the off that a certain amount of patience is required in this tricky field. No one expects a vacancy any time soon, but let us imagine that the Conservatives contrive to lose the General Election of 2015, Ed Milliband is swept to power and David Cameron is facing the job club. No leader could survive such a defeat.

Now, to the options to replace him; the Bookmakers offer odds of 4, 5, and 6 to one respectively on the three favourites. And they are? Boris Johnson, William Hague and George Osborne. No, really. Despite his designs on the top job (that is allowing for the rather generous assumption that Boris has designs on anything) there is absolutely no way someone as divisive, chequered, and frankly dim would be elected to lead HM opposition. Hague couldn’t get the Tories any advance on the electoral demolition of 1997, he is not a viable candidate. And Osborne? I would make him at least a twenty to one outsider. Should the Tories be booted from office, presumably because of losing a spending cuts argument, why would anyone in their right mind vote for the Lieutenant of that Cutters Army to lead the party and the country? And I see very little evidence of  a Granita esque handover. Mr Cameron, if he is allowed, is in this for the long haul.

So to my advice. Avoid ludicrous 200/1 shots like Guido Fawkes or Nadine Dorries. One’s a rabid right wing blogger with a suspicious agenda, and the other is Guido Fawkes. It is in the middle of the pack where the real value lies. Greg Clarke 18/1, Ed Vaisey, 25/1 Nick Herbert and Zac Goldsmith both at 33!

It is the same with the Labour Party. Despite Yvette Cooper being an 11/4 favourite, parliamentary experience is essential and Yvette, for all her demonstrable skills, has barely landed a blow on Theresa May, hardly the most combative of political operators.

Frankly, if some bookmakers are still daft enough to be giving you 25/1 on Jim Murphy, I would jump all over it. He has built a good profile down south, as evidenced by his seeming reluctance to touch the poisonous wreckage of the Scottish campaign with a barge pole.

There is a similar message in the shadow cabinet. Should Labour be trounced in 2015, the economic message having fallen flat, why would you elect the man responsible for articulating it? Step forward Mr E Balls, 8/1 third favourite. I am entirely ignoring David Milliband because being beaten was most probably an equally chastening, but massively financially rewarding set of circumstances for him.

Chukka Umuna is my tip (Google Umuna Obama for all the evidence you need to see he is winning over the intellectual base of the party) and he is good value at 12/1, although he has to show just a smidge more personality than was evident from his eerily polished recent Question Time appearance. It’d be cruel not to mention the Lib Dems, but can anyone see past Tim Farron? 3/1 on him remains good value though I am pleased to see Charlie Kennedy’s odds come in to almost 10/1, I backed him at 20/1 last year.

Rounding up with a few other matters, William Hill are offering the ludicrously generous odds of 2/1 that the next general election will be in 2015. The coalition has already shown that it can survive most strife and scandal with its belief in the greater good and all that business; although you will have to spend a fair chunk to see any return.

These bets can almost slip under the radar: despite myself and Jeff ranting about it. The odds offered by Ladbrokes of 3/1 on between 0 and 2 Scots Tory MPs were very generous and I wasn’t the only one who backed it. For a very long term bet, why not take the offer of 10/1 that Ed Milliband will be in post longer than Tony Blair? It’s not entirely inconceivable; if Ed wins in 2015, sees out 2.5 parliamentary terms then he has done the job! 13/2 on a Labour/Lib Dem Coalition in 2015 isn’t a bad bet either, and I would be failing in party duty if I didn’t tell you all to back the 5/4 option that Scotland will vote Yes in the upcoming independence referendum.

So there we have it, all that’s required is a bit of political nous, the bravery to trust your instincts, a lot of luck and plenty of patience. They don’t call it “taking a punt” for nothing!